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Texts Often Represent Women As Victims In A Patriarchal Society. Discuss.

1820 words - 7 pages

The female perspective is a critical element that has been persistently neglected throughout cultures due to the prevalence of the patriarchy. This has meant that literature itself manifests as a male institution, shaped by men's minds and voices who view the female experience as trivial and unworthy of consideration. Therefore, being unable to express their own perspectives and discriminated against in their writings, women are a marginalized group. But, in their portrayal, are they truly victims of a patriarchal society? Certainly Sylvia Plath's Daddy (1962) paints a despairing picture of suppression and inner anguish, a woman driven mad by the men in her life - though is this really the case? For Ania Walwicz challenges this concept of a helpless damsel in distress by subverting the traditional fairytale in Little Red Riding Hood (1982), thus undermining masculine values about women and their sexuality. Through the examination of these two texts, the extent of women's victimization by a patriarchal society can be determined.Written in the early 60's, the pre-era of the feminist movement, Sylvia Plath's Daddy reflects the increasing atmosphere of feminist awareness - a harsh critique of patriarchal authority and women's relegation to passive roles. The persona is of an angry daughter trying to come to terms with the betrayal of men in her life; events that parallel Plath's own strained relationship with her father and her failed marriage. Hence, the poem is filled with Nazi and Gothic imagery to emphasize the victimization that the narrator feels at the hands of these men ("fascist", "Luftwaffe", "devil", "vampire"). By constantly comparing her and her father with a Jew and Nazi respectively, the narrator darkly enforces the dictatorship of her father over her, almost to a sense where her identity as a person has been dominated and annihilated like the genocide of the Jews in the hands of Hitler - "Chuffing me off like a Jew/ A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen … I have always been scared of you/ With your Aryan eye." There is no doubt that the narrator is a victim for as the poem progresses, the father changes into increasingly more horrific and formidable creatures of evil to show how omnipresent and unending her trauma over her now dead father has manifested - even her husband is described as the second reincarnated vampire of him, "The vampire who said he was you." In this way, it is fitting that the protagonist is portrayed as both a daughter and a wife, that is, women of inferior status and always under the social control of men.Yet, at the same time, the girl in Walwicz's Little Red Riding Hood is also a daughter, but she does not exhibit the frustration and oppression of the narrator in Daddy. This may be due to the difference in contexts of the poems - the later Little Red Riding Hood was written in the 80's, at the end of the feminist movement, where feminists demands for equal opportunity were increasingly accepted and there...

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